The 100: A Sort of Homecoming

Madi: "You decided for me. Again."
Clarke: "I decided for everyone. That's what I do."

This was a good episode harmed by previous poor writing decisions.

Jason Rothenberg said that this "was an emotional episode, following surprising, almost last minutes adjustments in the previous episode." The writer of the episode said that there was a version of the script where the characters were really excited to be back on Earth. "A Sort of Homecoming" was supposed to be a cheerier episode, but they had to change the tone of the hour to accomodate the reactions to Bellamy's death. So we are really saying that the death of the leading man of the series was a last minute decision.

Why? What happened? I understand that sometimes behind the scenes factors will compromise a story, but did it have to compromise this much? Bob Morley leaves earlier than expected, we still don't know why, we might never know. The writers realize that they've written themselves into a corner with Bellamy's arc, and the only way out of it is to kill the character. Still, why have Bellamy go out the way he did? Why have Clarke be the one who kills him?

Bellamy's arc through "Blood Giant" was about being split between his new faith and his old family. They had laid the ground to give Bellamy a heroic death, they had all the elements to have him switch sides again and die for Clarke. It would still piss us off (and we would have never known how much worse it could have been), but it would at least be more believable. I can't for the life of me believe that these capable writers read Bellamy's death scene and the reaction scenes to the news of his death and thought "oh yeah, they work."

I was curious to see how Clarke was going to explain Bellamy's death to everyone. "Hey, guys, so Bellamy wanted to give a sketchbook to Cadogan, which was obviously an immediate danger to Madi, and therefore I killed him." It turns out that Clarke did mention the sketchbook, and Eliza Taylor, bless her heart, sold the hell out of the scene, but it didn't work. Clarke said she tried everything she could, which is a lie. Sheidheda was there, for crying out loud. He was the one who tipped Bellamy off about the book in the first place. He is a vicious killer, he has been inside Madi's head. If Clarke should have shot anyone, it should have been Sheidheda, not HER BEST FRIEND. And, yes, I know Clarke has left Bellamy to die before, also because of Madi, but that was also bad writing, so, you know, Jason Rothenberg, maybe you want to stop trying to ruin the lead character of your show? Just a thought...

I don't hate Clarke, truly, I don't. Not for killing Bellamy, that is, because it's all so freaking unbelieable that I simply disconnect from that story. Likewise, I felt nothing when Octavia and Echo hugged Clarke after her confession. See, if Bellamy had become an actual villain, maybe all of those scenes would have worked, but he didn't, his death was a LAST MINUTE ADJUSTMENT, so the scenes fall apart hard. Raven barely reacted to Bellamy's death. Process that. She cried, then she was busy being an engineer for the rest of the hour. You can almost see where the writers inserted reactions to Bellamy's death because, otherwise, after Clarke's explanation of what happened, they are mostly absent. Octavia's arc in this episode is about her facing the demons from her past, but with Bellamy dead, the writers have her say a grounder prayer for the deceased, and that is it, they have addressed Octavia mourning Bellamy. Echo has a moment of self-reflection too and they have her mention Bellamy. Done, dealt with it. What a shame.

To be honest, though, the character moments in "A Sort of Homecoming" are very good. This was an episode designed to be a character piece, a quieter hour to check on these people we have been following for so long before we say goodbye to them. And most of it works, so it really is a shame that it is brought down by the need to patch a bad storyline to an otherwise mostly good script.

Nylah knows we need alcohol to get through these episodes.


But that storyline aside, I did enjoy the one-on-one scenes that we got. Miller and Jackson, who usually don't get a lot of screentime devoted to them, shared a nice intimate moment, post-coital and everything. Now, I have complained that Jarod Joseph always seems uncomfortable in scenes where Nate needs to display affection for another male, but at least in this one the writers gave Nate a reason to be stiff: he regrets not having the chance to make things up with Bellamy and being in the bunker is reminding him of all the horrible stuff that happened there. That's no easy burden to carry, but Jackson tries to cheer him up by pointing his attention to the future: maybe the once again rejuvenated Earth is their second chance. Hey, guys, isn't this like your billionth chance already?

Two other characters who receive some attention are Indra and Gaia, and they share a beautiful mother/daughter moment. When Gaia was introduced into the series, it was clear that Indra resented her daughter for not becoming a warrior, and Gaia resented her mom for not accepting her career choices. Therefore, it was really meaningful of Indra to tell Gaia that she was her seda. She finally validated her daughter for what she is. I was worried for both of them during their fight with Sheidheda, thinking that maybe the writers had brought them to understanding with one another only to kill one of them off. Thankfully, that didn't happen.

While Indra and Gaia found peace with each other, another mother/daughter duo was going through some issues, as Madi has had enough of Clarke making hard decisions for her. Now, listen, we are back at season five basically, and I'm so on Madi's side. I don't like when characters give themselves up to the enemy with the excuse of "I'm causing too much pain, it's better if I'm gone," because usually that action brings worse consequences to the table, but, oh my God, I so understood Madi. It's tough for her to watch her mother figure kill people left and right claiming that it is for her sake and deprive the ones who stay alive of making their own choices. Madi herself can't make choices of her own. During season five, Clarke was the type of mother who, believing they are protecting their children, suffocates them. Now that there is a new crisis with Madi at its center, Clarke has jumped back to being that kind of mother.

It's difficult to watch Clarke going this route, really. I mean, girl, why did you break the helmet? Why did you take everyone's choices away from them? Why make such a dumb move when you are all an easy target on Earth, where people from Bardo can teleport to any time they want? While I get that Clarke is broken, that she is a mess, that she is desperate, grasping at the straws that give meaning to her life, I can't help but feel frustrated with her behavior. Has Clarke forgotten that they are trying to do better this time? This is risky character development, and I'm not even sure what is the goal here. What is the final lesson that Clarke is supposed to learn from all of this, and more importantly, will it be worth it?

Bits and Pieces

- This episode was directed by Jessica Harmon, who plays Nylah. And guess what, she is the sister of Richard Harmon, who plays Murphy! I so did not know that. By the way, Jessica did a great job with this episode. Kudos.

- Murphy's reaction to Bellamy's death was the most believable one. It was understated, but you could tell that he was hurt.

- Gabriel died, and while I was never particularly attached to him, it was a very good death scene. He did what he could to save Madi and he didn't want to be saved. He had lived his life, way over past its expiration date, got to play a little bit of piano one final time and just let himself go.

- Echo told Nylah what her real name was, Ash.

- Octavia didn't really get to mourn either Bellamy or Diyoza, did she?

- I wish I could say I liked Jordan and Hope's scenes, but I thought it was inappropriate of him to hit on her so soon after her mother's death.

- Why didn't Gaia, Indra and Octavia simply shoot at the bridge when it opened? Seriously, how much plot armor does Sheidheda have left? I mean, did Indra need to say "your fight is over" before striking him with a final blow? Come on...

- Why would Cadogan trust Sheidheda to begin with? I don't get it.

- Why aren't Sheidheda's memories as valuable as Madi's? Doesn't he also remember stuff from the entire lineage of commanders (that came before him, that is)?

- So, the nano tracking device, when we saw it last season, in order for it to work, the bridge had to be opened, didn't it? In this episode, it worked more like a teleportation device.

- Tati Gabrielle, who plays Gaia, needed some time off the show. What did they do to her character? Did she get stuck in a bad arc story? No. Gaia was simply gone, stranded on Earth until she was found in this episode, alive and still the same old Gaia we love. Why didn't Bellamy get this treatment?

Quotes

Cadogan: "If we win, we transcend, evolving beyond these meat sacks that age and die, becoming one with a universal consciousness."
Sheidheda: "I like this meat sack. It's new."

Madi (to Clarke): "You think you’re protecting me, but you’re not. You ruined my life. Just like you ruined your own."
Wow. Go, Madi.

Octavia: "You weren't my only teacher."
Indra: "No, just the best."

Nylah: "We are who we choose to be and we don't owe anyone our pain."

There was a lot to like in this episode, but I'm afraid the end of "Blood Giants" will cast a shadow over the remaining episodes of the series. Two out of four damaged helmets.
--
Lamounier

2 comments:

magritte said...

I totally share your frustration with this episode and I too couldn't for the life of me figure out why they can't use Sheidheida's memory of the Flame. Or why everybody constantly does whateve Sheidheida wants for no apparent reason. Or why Clarke's IQ seems to decline by 50% each season.

The best part of the episode for me was Madi calling Clarke out after Octavia and Echo (!) inexplicably accepted Clarke's explanation that she killed Bellamy over a sketchbook. The Octavia/Indra/Gaia stuff was good too, thoughI can't imagine anybody preferring to stay in the bunker with all its ghosts rather than the lush forest on the surface. I am puzzled as to how that forest grew so quickly. Or has much more time passed on earth?

Sjusjun said...

I was expecting an awful episode but tried to go into it pretending that the events of the previous episode were well thought out. It was a lot more watchable. I do like the character moments in this episode. We had far too few so far. So many characters with potential neglected, argh.